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June 14, 2011
What's the Right Role for PR?
 
Gini Dietrich catches Gary Vaynerchuk making a roundhouse assertion that "ninety-five percent of the worst social media egagement I've seen was produced by PR companies that were hired to manage a brand's profiles, pages, or blogs." Is that possible? Are PR firms that disconnected from customer needs? It's doubtful, but of course, be careful about what a PR counsellor does know and follow. Our times, any times, are too challenging for one-noters.

PR should be as concerned with what's happening internally in an organization as externally. We know an engineering company headed by a topflight engineer who is a poor communicator. His engineering skills are moving the company ahead while his people skills are holding it back. It isn't possible for a PR firm to provide counsel on this situation, because our engineer friend doesn't want it. But a good PR firm would be as aware of internal snags and limitations as external opportunities.

Organizational development is as vital a PR discipline as media or community relations. Post-graduate learning never ends, or shouldn't end. Gary Vaynerchuk, as quoted by Gini Dietrich, is right in saying that it's important to hire employees with strong relational sensibilities. But don't expect staffers to be doing everything right, or necessarily to know when to change course or how. Counsel with professionals who have a broad, experienced view of what produces good customer relationships — internal and external — is highly advisable. PR's role is to be a palette of engaging colors and techniques.

Our Flack Me colleague, Brian Wagner, is providing some of them in his current "Idiot's Guide to Public Relations" posts.  

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Doug Bedell has a background in journalism and PR and is the owner of Resource Relations LLC in Central PA, focusing on organizational and crisis communication. He’s the community manager of SimplyFair.net, a social network on fairness. On the Web, Doug’s at www.ResourceRelations.com. On Twitter, he’s @DougBeetle.
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